No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Saturday, 3 December 2016


Tasty tomato pizza (Cost, around 70p)

150g (1 mug) strong white flour 7.5p (551cals)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder (optional) (5cals)
100g (1/3rd mug) lukewarm water
10g fresh yeast 4p (from Sainsbury's - free from Asda) (10cals)
25g sunflower oil from s-d-tomatoes (free) (optional)

Topping:Half a tin of tomatoes, reduced, with a tsp soya sauce and dried herbs - 20p (50cals)
One sliced mushroom and tomato - 10p(?) (20cals)
A little Roasted red pepper - 10p (10cals)
3 s-d-tomatoes, chopped - 20p (40cals)
A sprinkle of nutritional yeast (nooch) and oregano - pennies (20cals)

(Total calorie count - 706. A pizza for one, using 100g of flour, would work out at 470cals!)

Sunday, 27 November 2016


300g baked seitan - enough for two Sunday roasts
I needed some seitan for the coming week, so I thought I'd cook some up whilst the oven was on for a Sunday roast. (More seitan info.)

I used leftover spicy tomato sauce (from pizza-making yesterday), as a base.

200g vital wheat gluten
4 dessertspoons nutritional yeast (nooch)
2 teaspoons bouillon powder
2 dessertspoons curry powder (I like a lot of heat - add to taste)

200g homemade tomato sauce - made with a tin of tomatoes, blitzed, with mushroom sauce, soy sauce, vegan pesto (Marigold), Lingham's chilli sauce, mixed herbs.

Mix the dry ingredients, then add 150g of this to the tomato sauce. Stirring with a table knife, I found this was too wet, so I added another 25g of powder. It was still too wet, so another 25g of powder were added - then I kneaded this into a dough.

300g of this were pressed into a small, oiled, roasting dish and baked, with a lid, for 30 minutes - whilst the oven was on for the roast potatoes, etc.

Cut into two pieces, one half for tonight's dinner, and the other in the freezer.
For Sunday dinner I have one of these halves, sliced, with some of the tomato sauce instead of gravy. The half in the freezer could be next Sunday's dinner or, chopped into chunks, become part of a chilli non carne.

The other 150g I rolled out into a cutlet Notes:
This made 450g of seitan, the other 150g, pressed out into a circle about 10cm across and dry-fried for about 7-8 minutes each side, will make a seitan cutlet, which I will have for dinner tomorrow along with some curried potato wedges.

You get a more even thickness if you use a rolling pin - don't believe those other websites which tell you that this makes it tough - not true. 

I had about 40g of the flavoured vital wheat gluten left. I've found it's always better to make more than you need, it saves having to flavour another 25g, then perhaps another 25g. I put the leftover in an old spice tub which I keep in the bag of gluten flour, so it's there next time I want to make seitan.

Thursday, 24 November 2016


Thursday 24th November 2016
Still in the zone - every meal I have without something sweet afterwards makes it easier. I was in Lidl today, and, although I bought a box of Turkish Delight for Christmas, I left the other stuff well alone. This is a first for me! :)

Saturday 19th November 2016
Well, it's only been one week, now - and I'm astonished! 

In that time I've had 4 squares of dark chocolate and several pieces of a homemade fruit soda bread - eaten as part of dinner.

My mouth no longer tells me it wants something sweet after a meal - it just doesn't! My desire for sweet stuff is getting easier every day.

This afternoon I made this 'cake in a mug' for my grandson - and I wasn't tempted in the slightest. 

So does it take just 7 days to ween oneself off sugar? I'm only a study of one, of course, but it does look very hopeful.

Thinking about it, what I was doing previously was a bit like a cigarette smoker trying to give up by smoking less - it just doesn't work. Every time you have another cigarette, you're reinforcing the nicotine addiction. Every time you have a biscuit/sweet/etc, you're reinforcing the sugar addiction.


Saturday 12th November 2016
As regular readers may remember, for the past several months, I've been trying to give up - or severely cut down on - alcohol, sugar and snacking in the evening, using the 2:5 method.

I'm now down to 1 pint of stout and a small glass on wine on one day a week, and I only have a late night snack on Saturdays. But sugar has been a far harder nut to crack. I have cut out all snacking between meals, and only eating any treats after lunch or dinner. Once I start, however, despite all the tips I've learned over the past 4+ years, I'm not always able to stop.

The lead up to Xmas I find particularly difficult; Lidl have now introduced their Xmas fare, which includes several vegan treats including chocolate covered marzipan, chocolate liqueurs, marzipan fruits and Turkish delight. In previous years I've gone to town on these, reasoning that, since they're not available year-round, I should fill my boots, as it were. This year I've been more circumspect, but I still have all these goodies to hand, albeit in smaller quantities.

However, this still didn't square with my stated aim of giving up sugar.

Finally, last Saturday, I thought, right, time to take drastic(ish) action. I bundled up all my goodies in a plastic bag and threw them on top of a tall kitchen cupboard*. All I've had since then has been 2 squares of dark chocolate (I find it easy to stop after one square) - one on Sunday and one yesterday. Since I'm fasting, no chocolate for me today.

Although it's only been three days, I really feel that a corner has been turned.

Monday, 7 November 2016


A simple soda bread*

Pancakes - just as good as the ones made with milk and eggs

Pikelets - This calls for a thicker batter which doesn't spread out over the pan

Tempura - A slightly thicker batter again: simply dip in some thin slices of your chosen 'filler', and shallow fry

Pasta - without need for a machine!

Sourdough. This needs time, but a flour and water batter, left for a few days will begin to ferment - and then you can turn it into bread!

Naan breads - done in the oven, under a grill, or in the frying pan

Pastry Here's a very simple rhubarb pie recipe - just self raising flour and water, with a little sugar and some olive oil, mixed together and rolled out. For a savoury pastry use a little salt instead of sugar.

Chappatis, of course. No need for a link, there are many recipes on line for this.

Dumplings Mix self-raising flour and water together into a dough, form into small balls and add to your stew! Talk about 'Easy-Peasy'!

*The term 'Soda bread' covers a wide range of breads (more to come)

Friday, 28 October 2016


I became a vegetarian in 2001for the good of my health - I was trying to avoid BSE (Mad Cow's Disease). It took me around 2 years to transition to a plant-based (vegan) diet - impelled by increasing concerns about animal welfare. When I did become vegan I found out my nasal drip - a constant bloody nuisance, to be honest - dried up. Took about 2-3 months. Eventually I realised that my osteoarthritis had stabilised - it was no longer getting worse each year, as it had been.

Now, of course, Climate Change has reared its ugly head and it's even more important to go vegan.

So, 3 reasons to go vegan, any one of which would be sufficient.

The evidence for the health effects of eating a plant-based diet is overwhelming. The case is made most effectively in the film, Forks Over Knives. (95 minutes long) 

Here is a shortened version - 16 minutes - video of 
Forks Over Knives

And here there are extended interviews of the scientists who contributed to the film.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


Basically, men who consume meat have lower testosterone levels than their vegan counterparts, take more medications for diet-related conditions, suffer from diminished sexual performance, potency, and erectile dysfunction, are subject to smaller or deformed genitalia in utero, inclined to halitosis/body odor, have enlarged prostates which makes urinating difficult, and tend to be overweight/obese - which elevates oestrogen levels. As Dr. McDougall says, "Now isn't eating meat a manly thing to do!"

Monday, 24 October 2016

BREADMAKING SESSIONS with the Taunton Association for the Homeless (TAH)

Wednesday 19th October 2016
2 students today, Becky again and her friend (whose name I've temporarily forgotten) made pizzas:

Pizza no. 1 for Becky

And pizza number 2.
When making the dough she added too much water, so she had to add a fair amount of flour to make it into a manageable dough - enough for two pizzas!

Becky's friend's pizza - nibbled a little bit.

She also made this fruit loaf in a frying pan.
Becky didn't make a fruit loaf, saying she didn't like sultanas. However, when she tasted the fruit loaf her friend had made - she really enjoyed it. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Garlic batons

Whenever I'm offered garlic bread at a gathering it's almost inevitably a supermarket baguette, cut into chunks, slathered with butter and garlic and baked for a while. It's OK, but it doesn't have the depth of flavour of these batons, where the bread and the filling are cooked together. Vary the filling as you will, with herbs, pesto, etc. As a vegan, I use olive oil instead of butter.
Garlic batons. Dough rolled out flat, covered with mashed garlic and olive oil, then rolled up like a Swiss roll

This method infuses the whole loaf with garlic

400g strong white flour of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
250ml lukewarm water
1 rounded dessertspoon fresh yeast
Good splash of olive oil

Garlic spread made with around a dozen or so cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed, and olive oil to taste. Mix in any herbs or spices you fancy. Spread with pesto to give it a bit more oomph.

1. Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid, then add the olive oil.

2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up! Either leave it, covered, for an hour or so, or go to step 4.

4. Divide the dough in two and form each piece into a round bap shape. Roll each piece out into a large rectangle – about 20cm by 30cm on a floured worktop. Spread the filling all over the dough and roll each piece up like a Swiss roll, with the seam side underneath. Gently tuck the ends underneath to stop any leakage. (You’ll still get a bit.) Place them on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

5. Leave to prove until they have risen appreciably.

6. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 15-20 minutes. Look for colour underneath.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

EAT, FAST, AND LIVE LONGER - How I began Intermittent Fasting

[14th August 2013 - discharged from the Lung Clinic.][Notes from a talk I gave to Taunton Humanists in March about Intermittent Fasting - including all I've learned over the past year.][Walking is no longer enough - my extra energy levels since fasting][Intermittent Fasting and the Hunger Switch] - why we feel more hunger on non-fasting days.]How it all started, for me:I began this eating programme (it's not a diet, it's a way of living - WOL) on the 27th Feb 2012. The story begins at the foot of the post if you want to read about my journey in chronological order. The links to the various research documents I've come across are posted as I found them.In early August 2012, Dr Michael Mosley presented a BBC Horizon programme on the subject of fasting, including Calorie Restriction (CR) and Intermittent Fasting (IF). This backed up everything I'd discovered  about the health benefits of fasting - and I switched from 50% of calories on two days a week to the full-blown 25% of calories (600 calories or less).

Saturday, 24 September 2016

2ND VEGAN BREADMAKING COURSE at The Planet Cafe, Taunton

Tuesday 20th September 2016
Arrived late tonight - traffic in Taunton was pretty well grid-locked, due to Station Road closing to allow a new bridge being placed in position. A couple of the students were also late - but with breadmaking being such an easy activity, we soon got back on track.

Focaccia and Chelseas tonight:

Not sure who loaf this belonged to - but it's a well-risen loaf

Another good loaf - and this time I can identify it to Sarah H
(Note: I ask the students to place an initial on top of each batch of bread - for two reasons; firstly, so the students can be re-united with their own bread - but also so that I can identify these breads when I'm putting these pics up on here.)